A trio of astronauts will launch to the International Space Station on Wednesday. The NASA ISS launch live stream coverage begins at 3 p.m. EDT with the launch scheduled for 3:57 p.m. EDT.

International Space Station Launch
(Left to Right) European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst, cosmonaut Maxim Suaraev and NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman will launch to the International Space Station on Wednesday. NASA/Victor Zelentsov

NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman, cosmonaut Maxim Suarev and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Alexander Gerst will launch to the space station aboard the Soyuz TMA-13M spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. The trio will serve as the ISS Expedition 40/41 crew and will join the three astronauts currently aboard the space station. The ISS has been relatively empty as NASA astronaut Steve Swanson, serving as ISS Expedition 40 Commander, and cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev have been waiting since May 13 for the Expedition 40/41 trio.

The ISS usually houses six astronauts, although up to nine astronauts have called the space station home. On May 13, NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio, cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin and Expedition 39 Commander Koichi Wakata, from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, returned to Earth after spending 188 days aboard the ISS.

According to NASA, Swanson, Artemyev and Skvortsov completed routine maintenance and participated in science experiments ahead of the launch. Swanson broke down the Resist Tubule Experiment, a JAXA study analyzing gravity resistance in plants, conducted interviews and replaced a camera on the exterior of the ISS using the Canadarm2 robotic arm. Skvortsov and Artemyev worked on the Russian BAR experiment, which analyzes leak detection methods, and did a quick health check on the veins in their legs.

In Gerst’s blog, the ESA astronaut describes the day leading up to the launch and the experience of training and spending years with the other astronauts. Gerst said, “You become very good friends with the Prime Crew through years of shared training. All this is intensified by the unique experiences shared shortly before flying into space, leaving this planet behind for half a year. The time spent in isolation in Baikonur is used to prepare mentally for the launch, to finalise your procedure books, to go through the final training exercises, to inspect the spacecraft and to attend to any last ‘earthly’ matters that one might have missed during two and a half years of intensive training.”

ISS Launch
The Soyuz TMA-13M spacecraft which will carry three astronauts to the International Space Station, was raised to a vertical position on Monday. NASA/Joel Kowsky

The NASA International Space Station live stream begins at 3 p.m. EDT with the launch scheduled for 3:47 p.m. EDT. NASA will broadcast the docking of the Soyuz spacecraft, which will be controlled by Suarev, beginning at 9 p.m. EDT with the docking scheduled for 9:48 p.m. EDT. The hatch opening is scheduled for 11:25 p.m. EDT and NASA’s live stream will begin at 11 p.m. EDT.

The NASA ISS launch live stream can be viewed below.

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